U.S. Department of Justice

Inmate Behavior Management

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Managing inmate behavior is the core function of jails. Historically, jails have emphasized the physical containment of inmates over actively supervising them and managing their behavior. This has resulted in problems commonly associated with jails, such as violence, vandalism, and unsanitary conditions. These problems create dangerous conditions for both staff and inmates and can be costly for taxpayers. To address this issue, the National Institute of Corrections has developed training programs, technical assistance, and information to help jails better manage inmates.

Training programs and resource documents are available on the NIC website under Training.

Technical assistance opportunities are listed below:

  • Inmate Behavior Management

    NIC offers technical assistance to help jails assess and improve their management of inmate behavior. This may include assistance related to implementation of a formal inmate behavior management plan or may include assistance related to any one of the six components of an inmate behavior management plan such as inmate classification or supervision.

  • Interpersonal Communications in the Correctional Setting

    NIC offers training for trainers in the area of interpersonal communications to agencies that are interested in hosting a class that includes participant teams from other agencies. The curriculum provides agency trainers with information and tools to teach their staff about the importance of communicating with inmates, thus allowing them to avoid unnecessary conflicts.

  • Direct Supervision Site Visits

    Jurisdictions planning, opening, or operating direct supervision jails may request assistance via a site visit for up to three people to see up to two direct supervision jails in operation. This technical assistance is intended to allow agencies to develop new operational ideas for their new or existing direct supervision jails. It is a requirement that jurisdictions requesting this assistance tour direct supervision jails within a day’s driving distance of their location (if any are available) before requesting this assistance. Staff going on the site visit must be in a position to provide policy direction or decisions.


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Recommended Reading

Date Title Type
2014
Document 027704
Inmate Behavior Management: Guide to Meeting Basic Needs
By Hoke, Scott; Demory, Randy. NIC-TA#10J74GKD7. National Institute of Corrections (NIC). Jails Division (Washington, DC).
"Experience has shown that if a jail does not meet the basic human needs of inmates, the inmates will find a way to satisfy their needs in ways that may be unfavorable to the orderly operation of the jail. Understanding what motivates human behavior provides jail administrators with a very useful tool for managing inmates since it helps explain both good inmate behavior and bad. This document not only provides guidance to jail practitioners as they implement this element, but it also provides se... Read More
PDF
76 pages
2013
Document 027705
Inmate Behavior Management: Defining and Conveying Expectations
By Hoke, Scott. NIC-10J74GKD7. National institute of Corrections (NIC) (Washington, DC).
A comprehensive management system, called Inmate Behavior Management (IBM) is being rolled out by the National Institute of Corrections (NIC). It is comprised of six specific elements that work together to control inmate behavior and produce an effective and proficient institution. This document explains “Element 4: Defining and Conveying Expectations for Behavior”. “It is intended to: Review what is known about how positive expectations influence behavior; Identify what concepts are important ... Read More
ZIP
48 pages + supplement (95 pages)
2013
Document 027703
Inmate Behavior Management: Brazos County Jail Case Study
By Hoke, Scott. National Institute of Corrections (NIC) (Washington, DC).
“Violence, vandalism, and other unwanted inmate behaviors prevail in many jails nationwide, and they frustrate jail practitioners who must ensure the safety and security of inmates, staff and the public … Effectively managing inmate behavior creates a safer environment for the inmates and staff and allows the jail to provide a valuable service to the public. Community safety is enhanced by strong jail management and facilities should aspire to create environments where compliance, respect, and ... Read More
PDF
16 pages
2013
Document 027702
Inmate Behavior Management: Northampton County Jail Case Study
By Hoke, Scott. National Institute of Corrections (NIC) (Washington, DC).
“Violence, vandalism, and other unwanted inmate behaviors prevail in many jails nationwide, and they frustrate jail practitioners who must ensure the safety and security of inmates, staff and the public … Effectively managing inmate behavior creates a safer environment for the inmates and staff and allows the jail to provide a valuable service to the public. Community safety is enhanced by strong jail management and facilities should aspire to create environments where compliance, respect, and ... Read More
PDF
16 pages
2010
Document 024368
Programs and Activities: Tools for Managing Inmate Behavior
By Martin, Mark D.; Kaledas, Richard J.. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
“This manual not only will provide guidance to practitioners on improving inmate programs, but will also demonstrate that even with minimal resources, correctional professionals can plan, implement, and evaluate programs while realizing the benefits of improved inmate behavior” (p.vi). Four chapters are contained in this publication: the value of keeping jail inmates productively occupied; the administrator’s role in supporting inmate programs and activities; planning, implementing, and evaluati... Read More
PDF
116 p.
1996
Document 013633
Audits of Podular Direct-Supervision Jails
By Farbstein, Jay; Liebert, Dennis; Sigurdson, Herbert. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
Three facilities varying in size and region were audited to measure the state of the art in podular direct-supervision jails, to test how well direct supervision is performing, and to point out its strengths and challenges. Staff and inmates in facilities in Minnesota, Florida, and Massachusetts were surveyed on issues such as safety and security, effective supervision of inmates, classification, staffing and training, and design and environment. Findings are presented in detail by facility.... Read More
PDF
64 p.
2006
Document 021968
Direct Supervision Jails: 2006 Sourcebook
National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). LIS, Inc. (Longmont, CO); National Institute of Corrections Information Center (Longmont, CO); National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Longmont, CO).
A directory of facilities that utilize the direct supervision concept of jail design and management is provided. Organized by state, entries provide the following information: facility name, address, description and status, year opened, contact person, facility capacity, direct supervision pods, direct supervision beds, largest direct supervision pod size, maximum inmates per officer, direct supervision dormitories, non-direct pods, disciplinary or high-security beds, and notes. An appendix pro... Read More
PDF
204 p.
2007
Document 021826
How to Collect and Analyze Data: A Manual for Sheriffs and Jail Administrators
By Elias, Gail. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). Voorhis Associates (Lafayette, CO); National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Longmont, CO).
Anyone who needs to gather and analyze data concerning various jail-related issues will find this manual useful. This document provides guidance on how information can fuel policy decision making. Chapters comprising this guide are: introduction; good management requires good information; information that should be collected; preparing for the data collection; how to locate and capture information; how to put it all together; how to analyze information; how to interpret information; sharing info... Read More
PDF
220 p.
2009
Document 023882
Inmate Behavior Management: The Key to a Safe and Secure Jail
By Hutchinson, Virginia; Keller, Kristin; Reid, Thomas. National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Washington, DC).
This guide “presents six key elements that, in combination, will help jails reduce a wide array of negative, destructive, and dangerous inmate behavior” (p. v). These elements are: assessing risk and needs; assigning inmates to housing; meeting inmates’ basic needs; defining and conveying expectations for inmate behavior; supervising inmates; and keeping inmates productively occupied.... Read More
PDF
16 p.
2004
Document 020035
Interpersonal Communications in the Correctional Setting: IPC
National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC); National Juvenile Detention Association (Richard, KY).
This basic communication skills training program, developed by Robert R. Carkhuff, has been used by correctional agencies for more than thirty-five years to train officers and counselors. Sessions contained in this course are: introduction to the IPC (interpersonal communication) model; the basics -- sizing up the situation; positioning; posturing; observing; listening; summary of the basics; the add-ons -- communicating to inmates; responding to inmates -- identifying content; responding to inm... Read More
PDF
2 computer disks; 1 DVD-ROM (100 min.) + 1 CD-ROM
2005
Document 020741
Jails in America: A Report on Podular Direct Supervision, Version 3.0
National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Longmont, CO).
This video explains the strengths of podular/direct supervision. Subjects include:
  • The three types of jail design and inmate management (i.e., linear/intermittent surveillance, podular/remote supervision, and podular/direct supervision);
  • Benefits of direct supervision;
  • The eight key principles of direct supervision;
  • Inmate management strategies;
  • Booking;
  • Orientation;
  • Classification;
  • The day room;
  • The housing unit;
  • Disciplinary segregation housing;
  • And inmate ... Read More

1 DVD (26 min.)
1998
Document 014373
Objective Jail Classification Systems: A Guide for Jail Administrators
By Austin, James. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
Objective jail classification (OJC) is a process of assessing every jail inmate's custody and program needs and is considered one of the most important management tools available to jail administrators and criminal justice system planners. An effective system of inmate classification will reduce escapes and escape attempts, suicides and suicide attempts, and inmate assaults. OJC systems use locally developed and validated instruments, one at intake and another after a period of confinement, that... Read More
PDF
72 p.
2004
Document 020030
Resource Guide for Jail Administrators
By Martin, Mark D.; Rosazza, Thomas A.. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Longmont, CO).
A guide "developed to enhance the leadership skills, knowledge, and capabilities of jail administrators on issues of basic jail administration" is presented (p. v). Fourteen chapters comprise this guide: introduction; role, purpose, and characteristics of the jail; administration; facilities; staffing and scheduling; staff recruiting, selection, and retention; staff training; security, safety, and emergency preparedness; inmate behavior management; inmate discipline and grievance; special manag... Read More
PDF
305 p.
2004
Document 019640
Self-Audit Instrument for Administrators of Direct Supervision Jails: Based on the Measurable Elements of Direct Supervision
By O'Toole, Michael A.; Nelson, W. Raymond; Liebert, Dennis R.; Keller, Kristin D.. National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Longmont, CO).
The "necessary information, instruction, and tools to conduct self-audits that will indicate how well the concepts and principles of direct supervision are being implemented" are provided (p. 1.1). Sections comprising this manual are: introduction; the annotated principles of direct supervision; table -- measurable elements of direct supervision; instruction sheets; administrator/management/supervisory questionnaire; officer questionnaire; inmate questionnaire; document review questionnaire and ... Read More
PDF
219 p.
1997
Document 013768
Women in Jail: Classification Issues
By Brennan, Tim; Austin, James. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
The authors examine issues related to classification of female jail inmates by profiling the female inmate population and discussing problems associated with using a single classification system for both male and female inmates or a gender-neutral system. This document also provides guidelines for designing a classification system specifically for women. ... Read More
PDF
23 p.

Available Training Opportunities

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